Chennai: While foresters have looked the other way, roads have been built without authorisation and in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
Photographs available with Deccan Chronicle reveal that the vegetation has been cleared to pave the way for the roads dividing the core forest area in the tiger habitat. Over 20 km of the pristine sanctuary has been cleared of vegetation to lay the interior roads in three stretches. They include the Malliammandurgam road (Kadambur West beat, T.N Palayam Range), Belathur forest road (Belathur beat, Thalavadi Range) and Gundri Road (Gundri beat, T.N Palayam Range).
No permission was sought from the National Board for Wildlife or the Union forest ministry for laying these roads although the Sathyamangalam forest in Erode was declared a tiger reserve three months ago and is the fourth such reserve in Tamil Nadu today, regret green activists.
K. Mohan Raj of the Tamil Nadu Green Movement says work on building the roads has been going on unchecked for the past several weeks and local residents are building the Malliammanduram road in the sanctuary misusing the district collector’s order allowing them to transport material on donkey back to build a school.
“A new red soil road has been created inside the forest in violation of the order and you can spot earthmovers in action, widening it. Development of these roads will only help nearby resorts and the residential plots on the forest fringes,” he deplores.
“The fragmentation of forests caused by these roads will have a negative impact on wildlife ecology and regional biodiversity. Forest roads reduce wildlife habitat quality and provide easy access to poachers,” admits a senior forest ranger, while the department continues to turn a blind eye to the problem.